By EMERI FETZER
In Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite's The You Show, dancers are superheroes. While they may not be literally scaling walls of burning buildings or flying through the night, they bear love and loss with the gusto of everyday champions.
At the U.S. Premiere of The You Show, which runs this Thursday and Friday at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Pite hopes audiences will absorb heroism and recognize it in their own personal stories of grace and power.
Pite's dance company, Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM, began in Canada but has recently taken up a 3-year residency in Frankfurt at Küstlerhaus Mousonturm.
Originally a member of William Forsythe's Ballet Frankfurt, Pite's captivating perspective in recent pieces such as Dark Matter and The Tempest Replica have provoked both acclaim and curiosity.
A series of four intimate duets, The You Show allows Kidd Pivot's performers a chance to shine individually as "main characters" in theatrical storylines. Whether examining an unstable love affair, an identity crisis, or a full-blown battle, each duet evokes the more "epic" moments of close relationships. As dancer Cindy Salgado describes: "In 'Glas Haus,' the second duet, I imagine Yannick Matthon and I in the middle of a huge disaster, possibly even an apocalypse, and I believe we're trying to save each other."
To communicate the heightened emotions of each scenario, dancers must find images from their own lives that connect them to the material. For Salgado, the simple gesture of putting on armor strikes a chord. "I try to connect that invisible armoring to the things I use in my day-to-day life to protect myself from disaster, or guard my heart from destruction in the face of loss or trying times," she says. "When we create images relating to superheroes, we have to put in the effort we imagine a superhero would put in in order to intimidate, battle, or even get defeated. It gives us an excuse to really push ourselves and dance our hardest."
Dancer Ariel Freedman concurs, saying, "[We are] looking for a great degree of freedom while at the same time looking for a great degree of precision."
The You Show does not rely on any spectacle other than life experience and thoughtful execution of rich movement. An original score by Owen Belton and simple yet dramatic lighting by Robert Sondergaard amplify ideas within duet partnerships. But Pite finds success mostly in the power of common human connection, which is "epic" enough to stand on its own.
Emeri Fetzer is the Online Managing Editor of DancePulp.com, a website about professional dance and dancers.